Dick Hagen

Perhaps coincidental; however, just as I start sharing some Land Mind thoughts on this morning, April 16, our Minnesota Senate convenes at 11 a.m.  It’s 10 a.m. in Olivia.  The House gets in gear tomorrow. The temperature outdoors was a brisk 27 degrees for my ‘morning run.’ But temps in the 50s were forecast for today, and 60s for the weekend. Hallelujah!  This is indeed the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Our lawmakers have come back three times since taking a recess last month due to the pandemic.  Yes, invariably these ‘call backs’ costs you and me money. Covid-19 funding is the culprit. And that ugly virus isn’t done raising hell with our lives, our economy, and our future.

So what does getting back to normal mean? To me, it sounds like mostly getting used to the ‘new normal’. What’s that you ask? It’s apparent we won’t be seeing some of our friends and business associates because this plague has simply put them out of business. They’re now broke and many don’t see any means of recovering.

Yes, that huge $2.2 trillion CARES package will ease the pain for a while. But our economy won’t fire up again on all eight cylinders. Restaurants have been especially hard hit; but with 17 million Americans now unemployed (and not likely to regain their previous job because those jobs are now history) many restaurants will continue to feel the pain.

So what will our lawmakers be pandering for this ‘new normal?’ I’m hearing things like:

• Allow restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout orders. Certainly not high priority, but my wife and I would appreciate this gesture. Curb side pick-ups with two of our Olivia cafes have become easy and convenient. Sure, our Olivia liquor store is open and likely doing a substantial increase in business. So wine or beer with our pickups is a bit redundant. But if that helps their cash flow, then why not?

• A plan to require drug manufacturers to alert the state department of health when they raise the price of a prescription drug and the rational for the increase … and that information is made available to the public.

• A bill which would allow prescriptions of erectile dysfunction medications via telehealth service; and a proposal to clarify the state’s Medicaid program would not have to cover the treatment cost from an approved clinical trial. Gosh, I didn’t realize this was such a complicated procedure.

High priority? You be the judge. But I do appreciate this comment from Senate Majority Lead Paul Gazelka: “I think it’s time for the Minnesota Senate to get back to work as normal; but frankly, it’s a new normal. As you look around the state, our habits have changed. We have less than a month to go to work on some of the things Minnesotans want us to work on.”

I certainly approved our legislators making insulin available to those in need — even for uninsured Minnesotans, low-income individuals and those with high-degree deductible insurance policies. I’m reading this legislation happened when a young Minnesota man died after rationing his insulin because he’d been removed from his mother’s insurance and couldn’t afford the insulin on his own.

In an update from the Governor’s office, Tim Walz points out that over the last 10 years, manufacturers have tripled the price of insulin, and one in four diabetics report rationing of the life-saving drug. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health estimated that 7.8 percent, or around 330,000 Minnesota adults, had been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes with around 18,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.

In the incredible rush to get more health care centers approved for handling CVD patients, I was disappointed efforts to reopen the Appleton prison facility for this purpose failed to happen. This prison — now shut down for over three years — provided a significant economic thrust to Appleton and surrounding communities. But apparently, the state’s efforts to flatten the curve have kept the infection rate down and consequently reduced the need for more emergency beds.

My state senator, Andy Lang, who resides in Olivia, Minn., did say, “Disappointed, yet I’m happy to say we don’t need the facility — at least right now.” Plans were to have as many as 88 beds equipped for ICU treatments at this facility which was planned for an April start up.

Notice no advice from me pertaining to you farmers. You’re much aware of the economic crunch ahead for this season. It looks like good weather will prevail, so hopefully your spring planting season won’t be harassed with muddy fields this year. Thank goodness tile lines were doing their thing throughout the winter season. But with $3 corn and $8 soybeans now being the talk of commodity traders, I  wonder will you even reach your break-evens this year. But I also know the resiliency and productive smarts of you guys will carry you through. Thank the Lord for your being!

Might some market facilitation aid be forthcoming? Who knows? Considering the millions being spent to extend help to our 17 million unemployed, shouldn’t there be financial band aids for you guys and your families also? Seems very logical to me. Yes, America is a great nation. Yes, we will survive and recover from this ungodly plague. Yes, many businesses, however, are wiped out — never to resurface. I hesitate to ask the ugly question: How many American farmers face the same dilemma? I think President Trump will address the American agriculture crises very shortly. I think he simply has to.

You might have viewed a Fox News interview earlier this week with Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China.” Yes, this huge country, now the equal of the United States in economic productivity, has huge internal malfunctions according to Chang. He accuses the Chinese government of pushing business imperatives before telling the truth. And he wonders if our government is doing too much compromising for the sake of doing business with China.

 Yes, he acknowledged the proposed agricultural trade package with China could be significant for American farmers. But he also asked, “How much will actually happen? And what pressures — other than more tariffs on products purchased from China — will our government attempt to enforce?” He credits our president with being the first American president to challenge the Chinese government on their unfair trading policies of the past. Chang also said eliminating China as a major source of health products for American consumers has to happen and hurriedly. “This action will accelerate the coming collapse of China in my opinion.”

I think I will check with our local library about this book. It must indeed be intriguing reading based on how China and U.S. relations appear to be questionable again.

My concerns? Trivial stuff like when can I reconnect with my coffee drinking friends at the Round Table at the Chatterbox Café. As I’ve said before, we all talk; the next day we pretty much talk the same stuff again. But this daily exchange of intelligence whet’s my soul. And we all agree we could certainly slow the aging process if it had to work its way through Congress.

The ugly reality is that American agriculture is in severe crisis right now. Hog and beef markets have crashed; thanks to schools’ shut down across America, we have a surplus of milk; some dairy farmers now having to dump their milk. And there’s simply no quick recovery for anyone.

Let’s pray that as America starts reopening in the next few weeks, Covid-19 starts sliding into history. May your troubles be less, may your blessing be more, and may nothing but happiness come through your door.

Dick Hagen is the staff writer emeritus of The Land. He may be reached at rdhagen35@gmail.com.